Often, it’s due to lack of knowledge and sufficient budget; but one of the most often-overlooked roadblocks is institutional perfectionism.
To that end, here are four easy ways to start making your content more accessible today, focusing your efforts for maxim impact.
Add transcripts for video and audio. Transcripts are critical to making audio and video content accessible to those with hearing or visual impairments. The effort may feel daunting, but it’s not the time or financial commitment you’d expect. For example, upload your video to YouTube, edit the auto-generated captions for accuracy, then copy and paste the transcript to a URL on your website and link to it under the video.
Don’t have time to add transcripts for all content right now? Start small by adding transcripts to new content going forward, and work toward a long-term plan for adding transcripts to the rest of your content.
Simplify your content. More than half of the U.S. population reads at or below a sixth-grade level, and disability can contribute to or exacerbate reading challenges. Create straightforward content, and use headings, short paragraphs and content overviews to ensure it’s accessible. Avoid jargon and figurative language.
One way to do this is by searching for common acronyms and abbreviations on your site. Provide a definition the first time they appear on each page.
Improve your alt text. Most content teams know the importance of alternative text for helping blind and low-vision users access the content of images. Fewer teams, however, feel confident writing high-quality image alternatives.
Here’s the key: It’s all about the intent of the image. When images are used to communicate meaning, alternative text should convey that meaning as accurately as possible to someone who can’t see the image. Because the same image could be used to mean different things in different contexts, the corresponding alt text would depend on context as well.
Be useful and clear, but don’t ramble. If you have trouble imagining what you could say about an image that would be useful, that’s a good sign the image may be considered “decorative.” If it’s truly there just for aesthetics and not to convey meaning, leave the alternative text blank.
Progress requires prioritization. To maximize the impact of your accessibility work, focus on two key areas first: new content and high-value content.
For existing content, don’t try to tackle it all right away. Instead, identify content that’s highly trafficked, critical to users (or both) and start there.
Making your content fully accessible should be your goal, but don’t get stuck on the size of the task. Start with something manageable and build from there.